A PhD student in metallurgical and materials engineering at Colorado School of Mines, Mark Strauss came to WPI to complete his degree after his advisor, Brajendra Mishra, was offered a position as director of WPI’s Metal Processing Institute (MPI).
“I jumped at the chance to follow him to Worcester to conduct innovative research,” Strauss says.
Set to cross Earle Bridge in May 2019, he is working on research to create an economically viable process to extract rare earth oxides from waste fluorescent lamps. “We have provisionally patented a hydrometallurgical process that is economical under most conditions,” he says. “I am also utilizing electrometallurgy to separate and purify europium oxide from the waste.”
Strauss says he is impressed by the international and interdisciplinary aspects of the WPI community—and the connectivity he immediately tapped into upon arrival. “I enjoy how close-knit the departments are, as well as the opportunity to work with professors from other departments for my research. Everybody knows each other—personal relationships are extremely important.”
When asked what advice he may have for potential PhD students hoping to enter the WPI graduate program, Strauss shares that becoming a part of the on- and off-campus communities is key for a well-rounded experience. Participating in Graduate Student Government events, choosing a particular major, being involved with an outside group, and connecting with classmates is crucial, he says.
His own experience as a Bowspring yoga instructor at the Sports & Recreation Center has helped widen his circle and enriched his time here.
Strauss’s ultimate dream is to facilitate the creation of state-of-the-art, environmentally conscious recycling facilities in the United States. He says he’s getting closer to this goal, due in part to the expansion of his skill set since he’s been at WPI.
First published in WPI Journal Spring 2018 edition